Manuscripts and Special Collections
   
   
  

Utilities

Staythorpe Power Station 1950, MS835

Records relating to the pre-nationalisation of utilities is an area where we have strong holdings. The University has collected records relating to utilities since the 1950s, especially electricity and water supply.

Electricity

Pre-nationalisation

The ‘Electric Lighting Act 1882’ allowed persons, companies or local authorities to set up electricity supply systems. The University holds the records of twelve local electricity companies dating from 1887 to their nationalisation into the East Midlands Electricity Board in 1948, which was itself acquired by PowerGen fifty years later. Most of the records relating to pre-nationalisation companies were given to the University by PowerGen in 2000, with the exception of a few documents donated by former employees.

The surviving records from the early private companies are predominantly minute books and financial documents such as share certificates and lists of shareholders. The greatest quantity of records relate to the company directors, usually minute books but some registers of directors too. The content of the directors minute books vary both in scope and detail. Some concentrate on the financial, contractual and staffing aspects of the company while other volumes provide more details about the power generation and supply activities. For example, the Rushden and District Electric Supply Co Ltd minute books have very little detail regarding operational activities, but those from the Melton Mowbray Electric Light Co do. Several minute books have additional information such as newspaper clippings or correspondence pasted in when these were discussed at the meetings. There are no significant customer records although a handful of the companies, such as Melton Mowbray Electric Light Co and the Tamworth District Electric Supply Co Ltd include lists or other details of customers.

Most of the collections also include share records, usually general meeting/shareholder minute books containing meeting notifications and minutes, accounts, and lists of shareholders. Other records include share certificates and transfer forms.

There is a small quantity of legal documents relating to the establishment of the companies, such a certificates of incorporation, seal book, and memorandum and articles of association.

There are no employee records (apart from lists of directors and a few managerial roles) and very few operational records, which is understandable given that the supply and infrastructure changed considerably between the establishment of the companies and their take-over. Their archives are, unfortunately, quite patchy in their coverage. The economic instability of the earliest electricity companies followed by the industry’s nationalisation and privatisation resulted in fragmentary record survival. Although subsequent deposits have addressed some of the gaps, if the remaining records have survived then their whereabouts are unknown.

  • Records of the Melton Mowbray Electric Light Company, 1899-1948 (catalogue record
  • Records of the Northampton Electric Light and Power Company Limited, 1936-1948 (catalogue record
  • Records of the Oakham Gas and Electricity Company Limited, 1917-1945 (catalogue record
  • Records of the Rushden and District Electric Supply Company Limited, 1945-1948 (catalogue record)
  • Records of the Tamworth District Electric Supply Company Limited, 1930-1944 (catalogue record
  • Records of the Wellingborough Electric Supply Company Limited, 1900-1948 (catalogue record
  • Records of the Midland Electric Light and Power Company Limited, 1887-1948 (catalogue record
  • Records of the Mid-Lincolnshire Electric Supply Company Limited, 1936-1948 (catalogue record
  • Records of the Boston and District Electric Supply Company Limited, 1923-1948 (catalogue record)
  • Records of The Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Electric Power Company, 1901-1948 (catalogue record
  • Records of the Leicestershire and Warwickshire Electric Power Company, 1904-1948 (catalogue record)   

Post-nationalisation

The electricity industry was nationalised by the 1947 Electricity Act, and the smaller companies absorbed into the East Midlands Electricity Board. The records we hold for EMEB are extremely patchy, as responsibility for recordkeeping lay with The National Archives once it became a government industry. Operational records consist of draft minutes of sub-area managers' meetings; a small number of maps and plans of land and infrastructure in the East Midlands, and some photographs of management and EMEB office primarily in and around the Mansfield district. There are no staffing records, although there is some artwork created by employees and issues of the staff magazine from 1964-1968, which often featured events such as retirements or competitions.

The photograph album of the construction and early operation of Staythorpe A coal-fired power station beside the River Trent spans both pre-and post-nationalisation. It may have some connection to the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Electric Power Co as well as EMEB, but as it came here separately from the official records, it has been catalogued separately.

  • Photograph album and pamphlet relating to Staythorpe Power Station, 1944-1964 (catalogue record)

Water

From the seventeenth century until the late nineteenth century, water supply for domestic and commercial use in towns and cities was provided by private companies. Some of their records were transferred when they were amalgamated into larger Water Authorities. The Water Collection is now one of the largest collections here and is described in greater detail at elsewhere.

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